from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - In its Children's Fiscal Policy Project report, New Mexico Voices for Children says the public schools in the Land of Enchantment are getting squeezed. Gerry Bradley, research director for the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, describes what he sees as the result of the drop in funding for the current school year.
"We will have fewer people, fewer teachers, fewer social workers, fewer school nurses in the K-12 system, and that will lead to larger class sizes and, I think, a poorer quality of instruction."
Voices for Children seeks to raise new revenue for the state's public schools next year.
Bradley points out that New Mexico made up the revenue shortfall in 2009 with federal revenues from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The loss of those federal stimulus funds has resulted in a decline of just over 5 percent in the public school budget from fiscal year 2011 to FY 2012.
"Part of what I hope my report does, is tell the Legislature that we're entering an era of lower expenditures in public education in New Mexico, and maybe it's time to take a deep breath and look at increasing taxes on the higher income groups and on corporations."
Bradley says New Mexico's method of paying for public schools is more centralized than that of other states, with the largest portion of funding coming from the state general fund, which relies heavily on income and sales taxes.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez believes classroom instruction should not be affected, provided superintendents and school districts across the state focus on getting the fat out of their bureaucracies.
The New Mexico Voices for Children website is at www.nmvoices.org
The "Funding Public Schools in New Mexico in the Great Recession" report can be viewed at: www.nmvoices.org.
Renee Blake reporting, firstname.lastname@example.org